Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa have "ideal" civil-military relations and they both never take any steps that could "undermine" each other's respect, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Tuesday.
Addressing a post-cabinet meeting press conference, the minister said the authority to appoint the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general "lies with the prime minister", and that the set procedure would be followed for the purpose.
"The legal procedure will be followed in the appointment of the new DG ISI, for which both [Gen Bajwa and Prime Minister Imran] are in agreement," he said.
The appointment of ISI director general is a prerogative of the prime minister. The spymaster’s choice is, however, made by the prime minister in consultation with the army chief.
Last week, the military's media affairs wing had announced that Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum had been appointed as the new ISI chief.
Meanwhile, Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, formerly the ISI director general, was posted as the Peshawar corps commander.
However, despite the passage of days following the announcements by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), a notification confirming Lt Gen Anjum's appointment as the new DG ISI was not issued by the Prime Minister's Office, leading to feverish speculation in the federal capital.
The government had, until today, maintained silence on the issue.
On Monday, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, when asked at a media interaction about the issue, had uncharacteristically refused to give a clear answer and said that Information Minister Chaudhry was authorised to speak on “civil-military” issues.
In his presser today, Chaudhry said Prime Minister Imran and the army chief had a "long sitting" last night to discuss the matter and the premier had subsequently taken the cabinet into confidence over the issue.
"Gen Bajwa and the prime minister have close and cordial relations. And it is also important from a historical perspective that there are ideal relations between Pakistan's civilian and military leaderships," he added.
Referring to rumours circulating about the matter, Chaudhry said: "I see on social media, there are many who have wishes; I want to tell them that the Prime Minister's Office will never undermine the respect of the Pakistan Army and army chief. And the COAS and the army will never take any step that will undermine the respect of Pakistan's prime minister or civil setup."
He stressed that both the premier and the military leadership were in close coordination, and the DG ISI would be appointed after fulfilling all the legal requirements. "Both (PM Imran and Gen Bajwa) are in agreement over this and the prime minister has the authority over it," he said.
Chaudhry also appreciated the media for not "sensationalising" the matter of the DG ISI's appointment.
When asked by a reporter whether Chaudhry's latest remarks indicated that last week's announcement about Lt Gen Anjum's appointment was made "without the prime minister's approval", the information minister said: "I have already answered this."
At the moment, no notification has been issued for the appointment of the incoming ISI chief.
The federal cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran, discussed the country's overall political and economic situation.
Detailing the decisions taken by the meeting, the information minister told the news conference that the cabinet had given its approval for the formation of the Rehmatul-lil-Aalameen Authority.
Referring to criticism of ministers on social media for not attending the funeral of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, Chaudhry clarified that although Prime Minister Imran had not attended the last rites of the nuclear scientist, more than 15 ministers had.
With regards to electoral reforms, the minister said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government was committed to facilitate overseas Pakistanis to vote in the elections. He announced that the cabinet had also agreed to launch an online service for the creation of powers of attorney for overseas Pakistanis.
During the meeting, the Establishment Division informed the cabinet that there were 80 vacancies in government departments and of those, appointments on around 40 would be made on the basis of a competitive process, Chaudhry said. He added that the government had made 80 appointments on "top positions" and all of them were based on merit.
The cabinet was also given a presentation on the formation of a new unit for riot/mob control. The new unit would employ modern technology and would be trained to control riots so that Islamabad could be "saved from attacks by mobs", according to the minister
Chaudhry also announced that the cabinet had decided to introduce an online visa service for foreigners working on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
He said the visa fee had been waived for Afghans coming to Pakistan and it had been decided that Afghan traders would be included in the category of Pakistan business visa.
"We want to encourage legal travel from Afghanistan to Pakistan," he said, adding that an online facility for issuing visas to Afghans would also be launched.
He said the cabinet had approved almost all decisions taken during the Economic Coordination Committee meeting on October 7. The Islamabad Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2020, was also approved.
Chaudhry said approval had also been given for the formation of the Pakistan Electonic Media Regulatory Authority's council of complaints in Islamabad, and it was for the first time that women had been included in the council.